Brussels, 23 Jul 2003
Following an overwhelming response to the first call for proposals under the 'Food Quality and Safety' priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), 36 projects have been selected, representing initial EU funding of 166 million euro.
The call generated some 200 proposals worth 1.4 billion euro, eight times the amount initially proposed by the Commission. From the proposals submitted, experts short listed projects tackling consumer-oriented issues such as food-related diseases and allergies, the impact of food on health, environmentally friendly production methods and environmental health risks.
Announcing the new research projects, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: 'New farming and food production methods potentially bring great benefits to our citizens, but at the same time we must safeguard against any possible risks to human health. These first research projects to be allocated FP6 funding will play a key role in improving the quality of life for people in Europe, but also in helping to shape related EU policies.'
The Commissioner also welcomed the extensive use of the new FP6instruments, namely Integrated Projects (IP) and Networks of Excellence (NoE): 'It is encouraging that many of these new projects have adopted new research funding instruments, making another important contribution to the European Research Area.'
Indeed, out of the 36 projects selected for funding, one third make use of these new funding instruments. These comprise six Integrated Projects and six Networks of Excellence. The projects concerned investigate issues such as low input and organic production systems; prevention, control and management of prion diseases; improved strategies in animal welfare for improved food quality; and allergies and asthma.
The remaining projects relate to traditional instruments such as coordination actions (CA) and specific targeted research projects (STREP); a total of 11 STREPs have been selected to tackle issues such as pathogen-free production systems; health risks from heat-treated foods; biological crop protection systems; and antibiotic resistance in animals, plants and humans.
In an effort to support research infrastructure, 12 specific support actions (SSA) have also been chosen, focusing on training and networking researchers and technology transfer - particularly in candidate countries - as well as disseminating results, sharing good practice and assisting international debate on emerging technologies.
The projects selected also reflect the Commission's drive to support greater international participation in the Framework Programme. Of the 666 participants involved in the selected projects, 17 per cent are from outside the 15 Member States. In the case of the specific support actions selected, nearly half of the participants are from outside the EU.
In terms of entities involved in the projects, 103 participants are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This represents15 per cent of participants in the call, a figure which the Commission says is still too low. To increase SME involvement, several among the selected consortia are considering using open calls as the opportunity arises during their research.
As such a large number of proposals and topics were submitted, meaning that a high number were not selected for funding, the Commission will consider the possibility of reintroducing them into the work programme for 2004.
The second call for proposals is expected to be published in November.
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